PRIME Minister Rick Hou has ordered an investigation following reports an abandoned Government land reserved for the Komaridi Hydro scheme in East Guadalcanal has been logged.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister Press Secretariat said, Mr Hou was very disturbed by reports of the alleged fraud within the Ministry of Forestry & Research.
As a result the Prime Minister yesterday immediately has instructed his Chief of Staff to get to the bottom of the matter immediately.
The report which was published by the Island Sun newspaper said, the Commissioner of Forest and some landowners have illegally carried out logging operations on this abandoned Government land reserved for the Komaridi Hydro scheme in East Guadalcanal.
The report alleged the felling license was granted by the Commissioner of Forest.
“We will investigate this matter and take necessary action as soon as we obtain further information. We cannot tolerate such actions,” the Prime Minister said in a statement issued by the Press Secretariat yesterday.
The statement added the Prime Minister has taken the reports seriously and assured that the individuals, including any government officer that is involved in such illegal activities, will be dealt with accordingly.
Meanwhile a statement issued by the Ministry of Forestry and Research said, the author of the report Alfred Sasako got it all wrong.
Investigations carrying allegations linking the Ministry of Forestry and Research, Mbetilonga Land Holdings Community Company Limited and One Pacific Company Ltd by Alfred Sasako are erroneous that holds no facts and are misleading, the statement said.
Dismissing the claims, the Ministry of Forestry and Research described such an act as poor journalism and unfair.
It then urge for the practice of fair and balance reporting by way of verifying information before putting it out for public consumption.
“This is growing trend overtime and a repeated excuse done deliberately to tarnish the Ministry who is generating the much needed revenue for the government and misinforming the public at large.
“It is only proper that you come see us at our office at Lengakiki to raise any complaint or get our side of the story on whatever issues of interest.”
Mr Sasako alleged the three parties’ involvement in an earmarked area reserved for the development of Komaridi Hydro Project scheme that was initially proclaimed not viable by government in the 90’s.
The Forestry office explained, its action in granting approval for development to Mbetilonga Land Holdings Community Company Limited and One Pacific Company Ltd of the said land is not a lone decision.
“In this case, the grantee – Mbetilonga Land Holdings Community Company Limited entrusted under Peter Isaac, Aaron Devesi, Serapino Pero and Sam Kulolo as grantors seeks the office of the Registrar of Lands and Titles for an approval of a ‘grant of profit’.
“That also includes holding of the Perpetual Estate (PE) for the parcel 191-060-1, 191-060-2 and 191-060-3.
“This is the record we have, provided for through the office of the Registrar of Lands and Titles at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey as of 15th April 2015.
“That ‘grant of profit’ gives the grantees to exclusively extract trees, sell timber and logs from parcel 191-060-1, 191-060-2 and 191-060-3.
“Based on that approved ‘grant of profit’, Ministry of Forestry and Research acted upon, and issue the felling license.
“Thus, we did ensure to check all necessary procedures and requirements are met following the rightful legal process before approval and the issuance of felling Licence,” said the statement.
It added there is nothing as illegal; neither any major fraud in the logging industry as claimed and speculated by Sasako in this instance.
“Whilst the Forestry Office welcomes such critic, facts must be right by verifying issues of interest and not to mislead with half-cooked information.”